NEW YORK (FOX 5 NY) - Federal prosecutors claim that designer Mossimo Giannulli and actress Lori Loughlin, who are married, paid bribes totaling $500,000 in exchange for having their two daughters designated as recruits to the USC crew - despite the fact that they did not participate in crew - to facilitate their admission to USC.
The couple were among dozens indicted in a federal college admissions bribery case.
A cooperating witness claims the couple initially contacted him in July 2016 to help their older daughter.
Prosecutors claim that Giannulli later agreed to pay bribes to facilitate her admission to USC as a recruited crew coxswain, even though she did not row competitively. They claim he later sent a photo of his daughter on an indoor rower that was used by a USC subcommittee to athletic admissions as a purported crew recruit. At the meeting the committee approved her conditional admission to the university.
Two days later, prosecutors claim that Giannulli was asked to send a $50,000 payment to Donna Heinel, the senior women's associate athletic director at USC.
In March 2017 USC mailed the Giannullis' daughter a formal acceptance letter. A week later Giannullis was sent a $200,000 invoice from the non-profit charity Key Worldwide Foundation (KWF) saying "Your pledge is now due." The next month, prosecutors say Giannullis wired $200,000 to KWF.
Giannulli then copied Loughlin on an e-mail to a cooperating witness thanking him for his work and "both Lori and I are very appreciative of your efforts and end result!"
Prosecutors claim the couple repeated the scheme with their younger daughter, falsely claiming she was a coxswain for the L.A. Marina Club team.
Once again, the couple is accused of sending a $50,000 payment to Heinel at USC and then a $200,000 donation to KWF.
The Key Worldwide Foundation is a non-profit corporation founded in 2012 and is based in Newport Beach, California. In 2013, the IRS approved KWF as a tax exempt organization. It claims to help disadvantaged children but the FBI claims KWF was really just a conduit for bribing college employees to get children into elite schools.